EMOTIONAL WORSHIP IS NOT SENSATIONALISM
by Adesoji Fasanya
“Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses…” Hebrews 4:15 GNT
‘Being emotional doesn’t make your worship true’;
‘Why should you cry in worship? It is just sensationalism’;
‘People cry when secular artists perform too’.
Statements like these are true and are intellectually correct but the real intention of proponents of this truth is that you should never cry while worshipping God. “It is just a sensation and does not get us anywhere”, they say. I am reminded of my undergraduate days when our student gathering had so much worship and prayer. You would often see many slain in worship, many groaning in prayers, and outbursts of emotion during our worship and prayer meetings. I must say that we were very orderly in our services and no trace of confusion. In one of such services, we had a guest minister who upon picking up the microphone to preach, started off by rebuking our emotional worship. In his words, ‘it is mere sensationalism’. But is this true?
Man has a soul which is the sit of mind, emotion, and will. Man is intrinsically an emotional being, he often relates with both visible and invisible realms with his soul. The comprehension of events and things is with our soul. Jesus regarded the greatest commandment as loving the Lord with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30 NKJV). Can we truly love God without our souls? The answer is clear. To love God well is to love Him with your soul; to love God with your soul is to love God with your emotions.
For many, there was once a time when the songs aroused our emotions; when bible verses made us happy but as we claim to grow in the things of God, we lost touch with the simple things that made us happy when we first got born again. We would need to go back to our first love (Revelations 2:4–5 NKJV). We need to set our affection on God voluntarily and deliberately (Colossians 3:2 KJV).
One of the great English Preacher, Charles H Spurgeon, had this thought
“Let us learn to think of tears as liquid prayers, and of weeping as a constant dropping of importunate intercession which will wear its way right surely into the very heart of mercy, despite the stony difficulties which obstruct the way. My God, I will weep when I cannot plead for Thou hearest the voice of my weeping”.
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said his like this, “the tears of penitents are the wine of angels.” Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41 KJV). In his petition in Psalm 69:3 KJV, David states; “I am weary with my crying, my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for my God.”
The unbeliever who was hurt and cried is responding to the object of his emotion, and the one who cried for joy from mundane and temporal things is also responding to the object of his emotion. When believers respond in worship or praying or when the scripture is read by crying, they are responding to Yahweh, the object of their emotions. Or better put, they are responding to God, upon whom their emotions rest. So, if you cannot be brought to such a sweet warmth of affection, do not castigate it as though it is some heretic behavior.
In conclusion, being emotionless or acting like one without emotions does not make you more spiritual than others who express it. Expressing emotions in prayer is an offshoot of brokenness. Many believers hold too tight to their emotions, but if you have truly submitted your life to God, then submit your emotions too. An emotion yielded to God can be used by God, just as a yielded life.